Miep Gies, 100

Miep Gies, who helped hide Anne Frank and family, dies at 100

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Miep Gies, the last survivor of those who risked death to hide Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis, died Jan. 11 in the Netherlands. Ms. Gies had suffered a fall on Christmas, and her Web site said she died after a brief illness. She was 100.

Anne Frank was a teenager who died in a concentration camp after her family was betrayed to the Nazis. The diary she kept while in hiding in Amsterdam is among the best known literary works of the World War II period and is widely read around the world.

Although controversy surrounds some aspects of the diary, Ms. Gies has been credited with preserving it and turning it over to Anne's father, Otto, after the war.

The Frank saga has come to symbolize both the heroism of individuals and the tragedy of the Holocaust.

In an interview published online, Ms. Gies said she thought it was "perfectly natural" to have aided the Franks and several others who were hiding with them at Prinsengracht 263.

"We did our duty as human beings," she said. "Helping people in need."

From July 1942 until the August 1944 betrayal, the Franks and the others were hidden in sealed-off rooms of Otto Frank's company. In addition to working for the company, Opekta, Ms. Gies became a close friend of the family.

Several people played a part in protecting the group. Ms. Gies bicycled all over Amsterdam to get vegetables and meat without raising suspicion. She was also credited with giving Anne books and newspapers.

Miep Gies was born into a working-class family in Vienna in 1909. As a child, her name was Hermine Santruschitz. During the first World War, food was scarce, and it was later feared that she might die.

At the age of 11, a Dutch workers' union helped bring her to the Netherlands to restore her health, and she made her home there. After completing high school, she began working as an office assistant. In her early 20s, she was hired by Otto Frank and put in charge of a complaint desk.

After the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, she recognized the danger to people to whom she was close.

"We felt deep anxiety for our Jewish friends," she wrote, and told of "special pangs of regret for the Franks, with their two young children."

She was summoned to the German consulate, where she was asked about her refusal to join a Nazi girls' group.

A German official said she would have to return to Vienna unless she married a Dutch citizen. She and Jan Gies had been close since 1930, and in 1941, they married. She became a Dutch citizen. Miep was a nickname.

Jan Gies, who was in the Dutch resistance, died in 1993. Ms. Gies is survived by a son and three grandchildren.

According to her Web site, it was less than a year after she married that Otto Frank told her of his plans to hide from the Nazis.

He asked whether she would assume the responsibility of caring for him, his family and those who would try to hide with them.

As she recounted later, her response was, "Of course."

© 2010 The Washington Post Company